Edward Chapman - River patrol

Running time
3 min 16 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


After six months the navy was taking over all…a lot of private yachts and boats to form upriver protection and a lot of us were drafted back to our state around the Queensland coast picking up boats and bringing them back to Brisbane and I did that for about twelve months and then I was put on what they call the river patrol boats, chuffing up and down different rivers where there was other big boats in port.

All we had on was a Vickers machine gun and two Thompson machine guns, a couple of hand grenades but we had two enormous depth charges about that big like this big drum on the stern and some of the boats would do only about six knots. If we'd have dropped them over the side, we'd be up in heaven right now.

In the end when that Japanese submarine got into Sydney Harbour one of the river patrol boats dropped his depth charges and virtually nosedived them into the river, but they managed to keep her afloat, but it damaged the propellers and everything. That's when they decided to give us the small ones like a four-gallon paint tin. You used to pick it up and just drop it over the side.

We took over those private yachts. Some of them were big some of them small. I was lucky I was on one that was 60-foot long and we used to travel from Brisbane to Maryborough. Maryborough to Bundaberg and we'd return back. We'd be away a week at a time and lucky we never saw any Japanese submarines.

I was assigned to the Vickers machine gun. I was a quartermaster gunner. Used to blow the tin whistle.

We mainly travelled up inside the Barrier Reef, the islands on our right side, the mainland on our left. We'd do a week patrolling and at night-time we needed to find a little lagoon and anchor in there for the night and sail out next morning because they were frightened. There was no lights and any big ship coming along wouldn't see us, they'd go right over the top of us. There was 500 of those ships the navy had taken over.

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